More TracFone and Net10 SIM Card Info

[Note: This info is a follow-up to my previous post about SIM cards. As with the previous article, this information applies equally to TracFone and Net10 users. However, to make for easier reading, I'll be referring only to "TracFone." If you're a Net10 user, just replace the word "TracFone" with "Net10."]


What type of SIM card is in your phone?

If you have a TracFone with a SIM card, you might want to know what type of SIM card it is. I think I’ve posted this before in the comments section, but I don’t believe I’ve ever made it part of an actual post. There are two ways to determine the type of SIM in your phone. The easier way for most people is to go to your phone’s “Prepaid” menu, and scroll down to “SIM Number” or “SIM Serial Number,” and select “OK.” You should see a 20-digit number starting with the numbers “890.” This is your SIM Serial Number.

Alternatively, you could also turn off your phone, remove the battery to access the SIM card, and read the SIM serial number off the card itself. Either way, you’ll be interested in the first six digits of the number. All TracFone and Net10 phones have SIM cards beginning with 890. The next three digits determine your carrier. If you have 890141, then you have an AT&T SIM card. If you see 890126, then it’s T-Mobile.

If you have a T-Mobile SIM Card and haven’t had any problems, don’t worry about it. If, however, you’ve had problems with data services, or had trouble getting a signal where you knew AT&T users had good service, you might want to consider switching to an AT&T SIM.

Replacing your current TracFone or Net10 SIM

Switching SIMs is something that TracFone or Net10 can do for you easily (and at no charge to you), though they would prefer not to if they can help it. I’d also like to reiterate that if your phone works to your satisfaction at the moment, there is no need to switch SIMs. It can be a nuisance to complete the switch, as you’ll see below.

To get the process started, you’ll need to call customer service and select the options that allow you to report a technical difficulty. When you are able to speak with a representative, tell them that your phone coverage is unacceptable, and your friend with an AT&T-based TracFone has much better coverage than you. Tell them that you would like to be switched to an AT&T SIM. At this point, they may resist, but you’ll need to be insistent that your current coverage is unacceptable. If all else fails, you could threaten to leave TracFone.

Once they agree to send you a new SIM card, the process has begun in TracFone’s system. AT this point, it would be wise to request a “ticket number” from them so that when you receive the replacement, their system will know what to do with your phone. TracFone will send you a new SIM card in just a few days. Once you receive the replacement SIM, you’ll have to call customer service again and have them walk you through the steps to activate the new SIM. Keep in mind that before you switch SIMs, you will want to make sure that any phone book entries that had been saved to your old SIM are switched to your phone’s internal memory.

Getting your preferred SIM card in a new TracFone or Net10 phone

As I said, switching SIM cards after you’ve activated a phone can be a big nuisance. To save this trouble, you can make sure before buying a new phone that you’ll get the SIM card you prefer. You might even prefer to replace your phone altogether rather than just getting a new SIM. Here’s how to do that:

If you order online from TracFone’s site, they will ask you to enter the ZIP code where you will use the phone the most. Try it now for yourself: Click on one of the links below to get to the order page:
TracFone’s phone order page
Net10′s phone order page

Enter your own ZIP, confirm it, and wait for the next page to load. Now, here’s the critical part. Look in your browser’s address bar for a string of text that looks like this: “action=view&market=” The string of characters that follows the “market=” determines the type of phone TracFone wants to sell in your area, as follows:
“CO” is for CDMA coverage, provided by VErizon
“GSM4″ or “COGSM4″ – Any GSM phones offered in this area will include an AT&T SIM Card
“GSM5″ or “COGSM5″ – Any GSM phones offered in this area will include a T-Mobile SIM Card
“GSM5AT” – GSM phones could be AT&T or T-Mobile, but probably T-Mobile

The above codes explain what type of SIM card to expect from TracFone. If you know what type of SIM you want to receive, but your own ZIP gives you the wrong kind, you can also trick the system by using a different ZIP code. Use 24874 or 65046 to get an AT&T SIM, 82001 to get a T-Mobile SIM, or 57401 to get CDMA-only offerings. If you do this, you will need to enter the “trick” zip on the first page, and then when you are ready to check out you will need to make sure you shipping ZIP gets changed to your actual home ZIP code, and confirm that you understand you have used two different ZIPs in the ordering process.

That explains how to get your preferred SIM card type from TracFone’s website. If you are buying from another site or store, your experience may vary. As far as I know, all phones currently sold on Walmart’s web site are GSM phones and include At&t sim cards. I think that Amazon uses TracFone’s own system to determine SIM type. And if you buy from eBay, you should confirm the SIM type with the seller.

If you are buying in a store, the process is more straightforward, but could lead to more frustration. The SIM card included in these packages will depend upon the area in which they are sold, and will usually correspond to TracFone’s site offerings for that ZIP code. To figure it out in the store, look on the bottom of the phone package for the model number surrounded by a few other characters. For example, the LG600g would look something like this: TF600GP4. The last two digits are what we’re interested in. If they’re “P4,” the package contains an AT&T SIM card. If it’s “P5,” you’re looking at a T-Mobile-based phone.

I hope this info helps save some frustration for TracFone and Net10 customers in the future. As usual, if you have any questions or comments, I’d love to hear them. Please reply in the comments section. Thanks!

96 thoughts on “More TracFone and Net10 SIM Card Info

  1. This explains the problem I was having with a new TracFone.
    2 hours on the phone to India didn’t solve the problem.
    I would have 4 bars then 0 bars, then 4 bars, then 0 bars.
    My old TracFone had 4 bars solid all the time…
    the old phone was an AT&T Sim (890141)and the new phone that didn’t work was T-mobile (890126)and would not connect reliably..
    I Will try to buy a new TracFone from Walmart and hope the Sim is a AT&T; will return if it is not!! thanks for the article answers the question I had

  2. Thanks so much! I loved my first TracFone but have had so many issues with my current one that I was thinking of getting a new one but wanted to make sure it was AT&T again. Your information is always great. I’ve recommended your blog to everyone I know who either had a TracFone or got one because I recommended it.

  3. Very interesting posting…thank you.

    When I migrated back to my Motorola V176 after having reception probems with the new EM326g, Net10 sent me a new SIM card. I can now see it’s AT&T. When I looked up what phones are available for my 95405 zip code, as your posting explained, I was able to see it was coded as GSM5AT. Also, all the nearby zips are GSM5AT. Interesting that I got the AT&T rather than the T-Mobile SIM card…actually it was fortunate since my wife can’t get cell reception on her T-mobile pre-paid phone at our house, while I can with mine.

    By the way, after you connect to whatever network your GSM phone searches out, is there any way to find out which one you are actually connected to, like AT&T or T-Mobile?

    Thanks, Alan

    • Alan –
      I think there may be a way to tell which tower you’re connected to, but I don’t know how to do that yet. Guess I’ll have to do more research…

    • re: determining what carrier you’re connected to -

      You’ll probably burn a minute doing this, but one thing you can try is to dial *228 and then listen to the message. I just tried this on Sprint, Verizon/Page Plus, T-Mobile and Tracfone/US Cellular and got a message that ID’s the carrier. On Tracfone/AT&T the message starts off with AT&T’s typical musical notes, but doesn’t actually say “AT&T”. *228 is the automatic PRL update or programming number for CDMA phones, so hang up after hearing the carrier announcement. It seems you just get an error message on GSM phones.

  4. I recently upgraded my three year old Motorola V170 – which I loved – to the newer LG600G to get the added features and longer battery life. The LG sim card is T-mobile, while the Motorola is AT&T. Can I switch the old Sim card into the new phone, or is that not a good idea?

    • Patty –
      Unfortunately, with TracFone it is not as simple as swapping SIMs. Each GSM phone can accept only one SIM, unless a TracFone employee makes the appropriate adjustments within their system to recognize a new SIM in an old phone. And in that case, it would require a brand new SIM, not one that was previously in a different SIM.
      For more info on getting a replacement SIM, refer to the “getting a replacement SIM” section in the above article.

    • MY DAUGHTER GAVE ME A NET 10 PHONE WITH NO SIM CARD. SERIAL NUMBER IS 809CQW31115. MODEL; NTL6400GB. CAN I GET A NEW ONE IF SO WHAT IS THE COST. THANK YOU !

      • David – Net10′s customer service should be able to send you a free replacement SIM. Call their 800 number. You’ll probably still need to add minutes to the phone to reactivate it, though,

  5. Thanks so much for your info. I had the same experience as Carl above when Tracfone switched me from AT&T to T-Mobile when I bought a new phone from them. After reading one of your earlier blogs I figured out what had happened and finally convinced Tracfone to send me an AT&T sim card for the new phone and it’s working fine now. And now with your much-appreciated expanded info I will be able to determine what I’m getting next time before I buy. Keep up the good work.

    • How did you convince Tracfone to switch you to AT&T? I have just come off more than and hour with them. I have a TMobile sim card, and I get terrible reception and they say I am fine. They will call be back in 48 hours with there findings.

  6. I am in Alaska. Trafone switched its service here from CDMA to GSM a few years ago. I ordered the Motorla V170 when that occured. We have AT&T cellphone but no T-Mobile service in Alaska. It took a couple of sim replacements before Tracfone got my GSM service working. My sim serial number begins with 890156. That number is not on your list.

    • 890156 is Dobson/ Cellular One. They were acquired by ATT several years ago. I would guess you are roaming onto ATT. Call Trac and get an ATT sim.

  7. FYI, in my location in Alaska, when you go online to buy a cellphone for my 99517 ZIP code you get a GSM4 link to the phones offered. That makes sense since we have AT&T, not T-Mobile, locally. However, my 890156 serial numbered sim is always roaming. Odd.

    • Thanks for that news about the 890156 SIM. I had not heard of that one. I know that a few years ago there was a third variation of the TRacFone GSM coverage provided by a carrier called Dobson. They may have been known locally as Cellular One, or perhaps by another brand name. Late in 2007, Dobson’s U.S. network infrastructure and, I believe, subscriber base, was bought up by AT&T. I suspect that the network in your area of Alaska was formerly covered by Cellular One, and that switched to AT&T in the last couple of years. Does that sound possible?

  8. In case my questin got lost at the end of my earlier long message…

    After you connect to whatever network your GSM phone searches out, is there any way to find out which one you are actually connected to, like AT&T or T-Mobile?

  9. In case my question got lost at the end of my earlier long message…

    After you connect to whatever network your GSM phone searches out, is there any way to find out which one you are actually connected to, like AT&T or T-Mobile?

  10. hi;If I, understand you correctly there is a Sim chip available from TracFone that works on the TracFone phones that can use a Verizon,is that correct?

    thx’s
    Steven
    Signal

    • Hi Steven
      I’m sorry, I was unclear on that point, and I’ve had a couple of questions about it. Verizon uses CDMA technology, which does NOT use SIM cards. AT&T and T-Mobile use GSM, which DOES use SIM cards.

      The internal hardware for a GSM phone is different from that of a CDMA phone, so a CDMA phone can NOT connect to a GSM network, and vice versa. So any TracFone that requires a SIM card will NOT be able to use the Verizon network. It would be like taking an AM-only radio and trying to listen to an FM radio. It’s not gonna happen.

      For more info on CDMA and GSM, check out my post I wrote last year: http://pbush14.wordpress.com/2008/03/16/tracfone-cdma-vs-gsm/

  11. Yes that is possible. My daughter once had a Cellular One (Dobson) GSM SIM here in Alaska> Celluar One has been purchased by AT&T. AT&T (Cellular One) is the only provider that sells a SIM and minutes locally that you can use with an unlocked GSM phone. Cellualr One provided a WEB gateway from which I could send SMS messages to their customers – AT&T dropped that service.

  12. FYI, my wife has a Tracfone V170 as well. Unlike mine, hers has an AT&T SIM with a serial number beginning with 890141. Her phone is not always on roaming mode, as mine is, here in Alaska.

  13. Hi …

    I’m just joining the ATT -> T-Mobile frustration process from a suburb of Rochester, NY.

    I’ve had a Moto 37x? TracFone with an ATT SIM for a year or so. Coverage has been great (at least as good as, and sometimes better than, my Verizon CDMA Moto) in a variety of places all across the USA!

    Recently, I purchased a couple of Moto W376g reconditioned TracFones with BlueTooth to replace my older Moto 37x, and eventually, the Verizon phone as well.

    Unfortunately, the new W376g’s have come thru with T-Mobile SIM’s and I have no service at all just 10 miles into the countryside east of Rochester, where I travel frequently. The old TracFone with the ATT SIM is max bars of signal out there.

    (An experience already mentioned on the board). This afternoon, I spent ~45 min with a very pleasant customer service agent at the 800-867-7183 number who put me on hold and checked with his supervisor 5 -7 times. I repeatedly asked him for ATT SIM’s for my new phones, but he would never agree. He gave me a 15-digit number to put into my phone with the code entry option. When I asked if that would give me ATT coverage, he said it would give me better T-Mobile coverage! I’m not sure what’s going on here. Was that 15-digit code an addition to some sort of roaming list?

    At this point, I have agreed to drive out to the problem area east of town and call TracFone (when asked how I could call him on a phone that doesn’t work, he said I could go to a pay phone and call their toll-free 800 number!!!).

    I will do this tomorrow, but somehow I think I’m being led on a wild goose chase!

    Has anyone had a similar experience?

    JimO

    • JimO – any update on this situation? I haven’t heard of any codes for GSM phones that will improve roaming capabilities, but there’s a first time for everything I guess. I would be surprised if there’s a significant improvement, however.
      Please let us know how it goes. And if you’re still left looking for better support, try “Elston,” whom I wrote about in my most recent post.

      • Last Saturday morning, I drove back out to the start of the T-Mobile dead zone in Marion, NY–about 10 mi east of Rochester. Once again, coverage disappeared as I approached Marion. So, clearly, the 15-digit number I was asked to put into my phone with the code entry option, didn’t improve reception. (The scientist in me is curious what that little code entry exercise was supposed to do??)

        With my new 376g getting no signal, I called customer service (800-867-7183 — Executive Service is closed on weekends) on my old Moto 37x and reached a very friendly customer service agent. We spent ~10 min checking this and that, and then he told me they wanted to send me an ATT SIM. After a few more minutes of getting names and mailing addresses spelled correctly, the CSA said we were all set.

        The new ATT SIM arrived this afternoon by FEDEX. I got it installed, and tomorrow I will try to port the old Moto 37x number and minutes over to the new phone.

        FYI, at least in my area of Upstate NY east of Rochester, the T-Mobile coverage maps seem to be pretty accurate. There are some large areas of no T-Mobile coverage in the southern Fingerlakes recreational areas southeast of here, but I have not checked them out.

        JimO

        P.S. Should I try to port my old phone number and minutes over on the TracFone website; or should I just call customer service?

        Thanks

      • Tracfone made me jump through all of those code entry hoops before this blog informed me about the AT&T and T-Mobile SIM card solution. I had originally got a W175G very cheap phone that had no issues whatsoever in Northern Virginia (D.C. suburbs). I then decided to get the LG600G because of all of its features and the dollar saving that would be realized by getting double minutes for life. Sometimes the phone was fine and sometimes it was completly unusable.

        Make sure when you call Tracfone to use one of the direct numbers provided by this blog. Also be very firm with the CS rep if they try to make you go through the code entry exercise. Just tell them you’ve called and done that before and it doesn’t work. Tell them you want the AT&T SIM and they will lose your business if they don’t agree. Make them understand that you use your phone for business and the service with the T-Mobile card is completly unacceptable.

        Finally, do everything you can to get them to FedEx the card and to provide you with a tracking number. The first time they told me it would take 3-5 days and no more than 10 days to receive. After waiting 10 days I had to start the whole process again. It generally takes about 45 minutes of phone time to get something accomplished.

        I now have an AT&T card in my LG600C and it is working as well as my original cheapy W175G. One more caveat is if you are a Facebook user, you must have an AT&T card to update your status because FB doesn’t support the T-Mobile card.

  14. NIce information! I am new to Net 10 and bought a LG 1500 in a local store on sale. It has a ATT sim card. I just ordered a phone a LG 300 from Net 10 for my area because it came with a free 300 minute air time card and it has a T-mobile sim card. I think for my local area they are both ok but for travelling I would think ATT would be better.

    Hey is there a way to get my promotional 300 minutes onto my LG 1500? Thanks

    • George – You should be able to call Net10′s customer service and get this done. Find the 800 number from the net10 packaging or web site (I think it’s 800-TEN-CENT or something like that) and tell them that you were going to upgrade from the 1500 to the LG 300, but decided you didn’t like the LG 300 as much and now want to keep the 1500. technically, Net10′s rules say they won’t do this – they are supposed to transfer only minutes that you have purchased, not received as a “bonus” – but if you persist they might allow it.

  15. Very interesting information here, Pbushx2. I appreciate your willingness to dig in and do research.

    Here’s a related issue I’ve been wondering about lately in the quest for good cell coverage. Is Tracfone in the process of phasing out Verizon as a carrier?

    Here’s why I ask. I’ve been a Tracfone customer for a few years and during that time have bought phones for my wife, daughter, and myself. I switched from Virgin Mobile (which, of course, uses Sprint’s less than lustrous CDMA network) when I discovered how superior Tracfone’s coverage was in upstate New York — specifically, Columbia County. I deliberately bought a CDMA-based LG 3280 as my first phone and discovered to my relief that it (presumably using Verizon’s network) worked in *plenty* of areas where my old Virgin Mobile phone (using Sprint’s network) didn’t.

    Lately, however, I’ve noticed that fewer and fewer of the phones Tracfone offers are CDMA-based. They’ve stopped selling the LG 3280 and even when I enter the Zip code for my apartment in New York City their offerings seem to be *totally* GSM-based: a topheavy assortment of Motorola phones plus such GSM phones as the Samsung SGH-T101G and the LG 225.

    Any idea what’s up? Part of me hopes that it’s just because Verizon is in the middle of switching to its next-generation network, which I’ve read they’ll start rolling out in 2010. But it could also mean that Verizon doesn’t want to license their next-gen network to pipsqueak 3rd party carriers like Tracfone, or, just as bad, that they’ve decided to price their licensing out of Tracfone’s range — especially since prepaid wireless seems to be growing at the expense of standard contract agreements.

    Either way, it could be bad for users like me who like Tracfone’s inexpensive CDMA/Verizon coverage in rural areas. I bought my daughter a Motorola W376g, which I suspect uses AT&T’s network. It *does* work in New York’s Columbia County, but not nearly as reliably as my LG 3280.

    Any thoughts?

    • Final follow-up on my 370 -> 376g transition …………

      Yesterday, I tried to activate my new ATT-SIMmed 376g on-line. My intention was to transfer the phone number and minutes from my old W370 to the new 376. Things looked promising for a few minutes as the TracFone site seemed to know the Serial Numbers of both my phones. But a little further along, the site said my phone number was wrong. I couldn’t seem to get the problem corrected, so I called Customer Service.

      Another friendly, helpful fellow asked me some questions, had me input some codes into both the old and the new phones, and, voila, the new phone beeped with transferred phone number/minutes/service time.

      So today I took yet another ride into the scenic countryside east of Rochester to probe the T-Mobile dead zone. Good signal all the way!! We’re all set!!

      JimO

      P.S Please see follow on about Bluetooth -> car linkage.

      Thanks

      • My main goal in buying the 376g’s was to take advantage of their BlueTooth capabilities to connect with the system in my new car (2008 BMW 328ix).

        Our Verizon MOTW385 paired up with the new car pretty easily, and its phone book list shows up in my car’s phone menu.

        However, with the 376g, I can’t figure out how to get the car to see the phone address list. The BlueTooth link works. Outside calls come through OK to the car audio system. If I dial a call from the phone itself, it goes out OK through the car system.

        Any hints ??

        Thanks,

        JimO

        • Hi Jim O
          Unfortunately, there is not a way for the phone book to ‘sync’ from the w376g to bluetooth devices. I believe this is a result of the way TracFone has locked down the bluetooth functionality such that it is good for voice only.

    • Juror Eight –
      I am also disappointed in TracFone’s reluctance to add phones to their CDMA lineup. They indeed may be phasing out Verizon coverage, although the 3280 does pop up on their site from time to time – I try to post about it on this blog when they do.

      If you use your phone more than about 250 minutes a month, you might want to check out the new Straight Talk brand – it’s owned by the same parent company as TracFone, and uses the Verizon network. Here’s a post I did about it a while ago:

      http://pbush14.wordpress.com/2009/08/21/more-tracfone-and-net10-sim-card-info/

  16. Thanks a million for clearing this up. You’ve saved me lots of hours of screwing around trying to make the “sync” work!

    But this is one of the really frustrating things about TracFone. For what good, or even stupid, reason do they need to dumb-down a phone so that even though it connects to the car system, it won’t let the phonebook sync with a ready-and-willing car system?!?!

    Although I give TracFone good marks for value and customer support, this little “gotcha” bugs me. Now I have to reconsider whether or not to move my current Verizon MOTW385 (which syncs nicely) account to the other TracFone W376g I just bought.

    Well, I guess life is just a bunch of trade-offs!

    JimO

    • Hi Jim
      I can’t say for sure, but I suspect that TracFone does this to avoid spending time on tech support calls from the less tech-savvy of its customer base. That way they can just say “sorry, your phone doesn’t support this function.” It’s a lot cheaper than spending 1/2 hour walking the customer through setting something like a sync that you describe, and that doesn’t even factor in all the time it would take to research all the different car models, stand-alone GPS systems, computer systems, and other phones/pdas/etc. that people would want to connect to.
      I’m not trying to defend them – I’d much rather have a fully functional phone and figure it out myself. But I can kind of see where they are coming from. Since they are offering such a low-price, low-volume service, they can’t really afford to spend big $ on tech support and still offer that same low-cost phone service. As you said, it is indeed a trade-off.

  17. Regarding the AT+T vs. T-Mobile SIM card–I’m wondering which I should go for here in my very rural area. I bought a LG600G at my local K-Mart and the label has the P4DM (indicating AT&T sim, right?) at the end. However, in going to the TracFone site with my zip code, I come up the GSM5AT indicating they’d be sending a T-Mobile.

    No brainer–keep the K-Mart version right? Well, I’m wondering…you see, our son has an iPod with AT&T and he is *never* able to get service at our home. I have an old V170 TracFone and, while it’s a bit sketchy at home, it *does* get a signal there. I’m concerned that the AT&T SIM will be like his iPod and I won’t be able to place/receive calls at home. Would the reception be the same for an AT&T SIM as it is for his iPod?

    Also, this LG600G is replacing *another* V170 which I put through the washing machine this weekend. I cannot turn it on to access any info on the old V170 but I do have the serial number and it’s all registered with TracFone online. Will I be able to do the transfer of the minutes and the phone number to the new LG600G online or will I need to use Customer Service via phone?

    • Ukalady –
      First, I’ll answer your question about transferring the service. I would contact customer service if I were you, since otherwise you likely won’t be able to get the remaining minutes off the ‘dead’ phone. Just explain to them honestly what happened, and they should be able to give you at least some, if not all, of the minutes that were left on the phone, as well as the old number and any remaining service days.

      Now, regarding your SIM question. It really depends on what network is stronger in your area – t-mobile, or AT&T? Does your old v170 have a t-mobile sim? If so, it seems that T-mo is better *in your area.*

      I don’t know much about the iPhone, but it’s also possible the iPhone has particularly poor reception. I’m not saying this is fact, just a possibility.

      If your old v170 had an AT&T SIM, then I’d stick with AT&T on your new phone as well. Reception with the 600 should be at least as good as the v170, all other things being equal. If reception is an issue, the w376g seemed to be a bit better than the 600g, and definitely better than the v170.

      • How can you tell what type of SIM you have?

        Here’s why I ask…I decided I don’t make that many calls with the TracFone from home and so I kept the AT&T SIM TracFone, activated it online (I hadn’t rec’d your answer yet) and then called TracFone to get the minutes and phone number transferred. I was dumb to do the online activation (but I did get the 20 minutes!) because now they’re going to send me a new SIM overnight to put in the new phone so it’ll be associated with the “old” phone number. I specifically requested an AT&T SIM (even though my zip code calls for the T-Mobile type) and was assured that’s what I would get. Big question now: How will I know what type I have when it arrives tomorrow???

  18. Hi pbush,

    I’m sure you’re right that minimizing tech support workload is the major factor in TracFone’s tactic of limiting phone features.

    My w376g continues to work well in the car. Being able to see the phonebook on my car display is definitely not worth the $25 – 30 per month extra cost for my usage on Verizon vs. TracFone.

    Thanks again for you help,

    JimO

  19. Patrick,

    Thanks so much for your clear and concise info regarding the prepaid phone markets.

    It was (several) visits to your site that helped me take the plunge in making the switch to both Net10 & Tracfone from my previous contract hell; and also helped me to know that the EM326g was the phone I wanted to get.

    Love the phone, and the service (when it works) has been great. Too often though, in neighboring towns or on the road, I have not been able to make nor receive calls nor text. This, even though I almost always show a signal (the symbol next to the bars will change though, from “teeth” or jagged puzzle pieces, to a square formed by the letters GPRS).

    I didn’t know what all that meant except that it was very frustrating to me. After several instances just today of not being able to make calls & of having friend & clients frustrated too by their not being able to reach me; I sat down to see about returning this phone or canceling my service, whatever – but remembered & decided to pull up your blog again before doing so.

    What a revelation to realize that indeed, I have been cursed with a TMobile SIM card, and this card (or this phone?) is not capable or not programmed to jump over to ATT ( the dominant area carrier – formerly Cingular/Bellsouth ) when out of range from a TMobile cell!

    I’ve sent Net10 an email just now and we’ll hopefully have it all sorted in short order – I’ll let you know how we get on from here.

    I don’t really care if they have to send me a new SIM or if they are able to fix it where this phone will jump over; as long as I’m able to make & receive calls in all the areas I frequent (& where I have signal strength showing, and where all the people around me are able to call, but currently I am not!)

    I’ve ponied up for two years of time though, & I need this thing to work! :)

    • new2prepaid – thanks for sharing your experience. I hope you’re able to get it worked out soon, if you haven’t already. Either way, please do check in again when you get a moment, and let us know how it went. Good luck!

  20. Ukalady – scroll to the top of this page and you’ll see instructions on determining your SIM Card type. That should help you figure some things out.

  21. I found your very informative website while researching Tracfones. The browser address bar for my zip code showed GSM5AT, so before ordering I checked the packaging at several retailers in my area (2 Walmarts, 2 Targets, 2 Walgreens, and 1 K-mart) and found they all had the P4 code indicating an AT&T SIM. I could have bought the phone at a store, but the Tracfone website was including an accessory kit with the LG600g, so I wanted to order from them, and since the retailers all showed a P4, I thought that if I ordered from Tracfone’s website I would probably get an AT&T SIM card, which I what I wanted since several zip codes where I travel occasionally have the GSM4 in the browser address bar or they are in a CDMA area (roaming areas for AT&T and T-Mobile.) Today I got my e-mail notice from Tracfone saying my phone has shipped, and it shows an item code of TFLG600GP5DM, so I am thinking it has a T-Mobile SIM. I called the Direct Sales Customer Service number 800-323-2366, and they told me that they couldn’t tell me from the Item Code which SIM it was — they wouldn’t be able to tell me until it was activated. I don’t mind having a T-Mobile SIM as long as I know it will work well when I travel. What do you suggest?

    • Deb – in general, AT&T sims work better than T-Mobile in MOST place. That’s a general rule, though – your area could be different. Without knowing your area, I can’t say for sure. But to be on the safe side, especially if you’ve already used a phone in your area with an AT&T SIM, I’d suggest getting a replacement SIM BEFORE you activate the new phone.

      • From looking at the coverage areas for T-Mobile and AT&T, I am quite certain that either would be fine in my immediate area; in fact, T-Mobile might be slightly better. My main concern is when I am traveling in CDMA areas where both AT&T and T-Mobile are roaming (specifically NE Colorado, Nebraska along I-80, and in the western half of Iowa) Both companies maps’ show fairly good roaming coverage, but I don’t know if the roaming provider of one is stronger than the roaming provider of the other.

      • Another option for me would be to purchase a CDMA phone using a zip code in one of the areas where I travel. Right now there is an LG 200C + 1 Year Card for $99.99 deal available. I don’t know if I would want to put a year on a phone I wouldn’t use very frequently, so could I use the 1 Year Card on my GSM LG 600g phone instead?

  22. Deb – Sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner. You could do the 1-year deal you describe. Get the LG 200c plus the year card, but add the year card to your LG 600g. Then when you’re ready to travel through those CDMA areas, activate the 200c and use it only when the 600g has no signal.

    If you stick with the 600g only, I’d say you’re probably better off with an AT&T SIM, unless you have concrete evidence to the contrary.

    P.S. if you’re going to order that package deal from TracFone’s website, check out the post I just put up today about discount promotional codes for $3 off your order, plus another one for a free universal accessory kit:

    http://pbush14.wordpress.com/2009/10/02/tracfonepromotionalcodesfordiscounts/

  23. Hi, I have a Tracfone LG300G that came with an AT&T type SIM chip(P4). It works fine and has great reception. My only complaint is that I hate the LG300G phone. I find the keypad hard to use because they keys are too small and bunched too close together. Can I go to Walmart or Target and purchase a Tracfone Motorola W376-G (GSM), not activate it and use my current Tracfone SIM from the LG300G? Will this work?

    • Patrick – you cannot swap the SIMs – your best bet is to buy another Net10 phone and use their online system to activate the new phone. Follow their instructions, and they will transfer your phone number and remaining airtime balance from your 300g to the new phone. I agree that the 300g keypad is pretty crappy.
      I know it sounds like a lot of money to get a decent phone you like, but keep in mind that you’ll get 300 free minutes on the new phone. The w377, em326g, LG 600g, and brand new Samsung T401g are all possibilities for you to upgrade.

  24. There is another way to get the sim card you want instead of using a different zip code. Just change the area in the address bar where the type of sim card that will be shipped with the phone and then click on the go button.

    Example of web address
    http://www.tracfone-orders.com/bpdirect/tracfone/Start.do?action=view&market=GSM5AT&aid

    Change the “GSM5AT” part to “GSM4″ or to the sim card you want and then click on “GO”. The page will then reload with the phones with that sim card. I have not tryed to purchase any phone by this methed yet to see if they ship the desired sim card.

  25. I have a NET10 LG300G phone. I want to use it overseas. Is it a simple process like switching out the SIM card to one that works in the new country, or do I have to go through some process of unlocking my phone? Can I do this for free?

  26. In my area I get T-mobil sim cards. If I put Verizon Zip Code and get Verizon phone from Net10, when I activate it will I get my local area code number or the one from the zip code I ordered?

  27. I was able to set up my Tracfone voice mail so I can access messages by land line. However, my wife can only access her messages with her cell phone. I get various answers from CS as to why that is. I’m wondering if it has to do with the type of sim cards since we have different phones. We have the same area code. Any ideas?

    • What model of phone does your wife use? It could be there’s a different shortcut to access the voicemail system – could it be # instead of *?

  28. Well, as it turns out, the simple answer was that voice mail works just like other providers. You call your cell phone from a land line, press star at the greeting, enter you password and you are good to go. I got misdirected because the number of the voice mail box showed up on my cell phone (1 805 637-7243) so I called that number and it prompts you to enter your cell number and pass word and I got my messages but it didn’t work for my wife’s cell number. After a couple of calls to CS I got further confused when one guy told me I couldn’t access my voice mail from a land line!! I decided to try their e-mail CS and I finally got the straight scoop as indicated above. I feel a little stupid but at least we have access with both cells numbers by land line to our voice mail boxes. Thanks for your web site, it has provided much valuable information.

    • Hi Hiker
      Glad you got it figured out, and that you’ve found some valuable info here. I’m happy to help!
      Patrick

  29. I have a Motorola “razor” from AT&T approx. 3 years old. It is loaded with data. I bought a Samsung T301G Tracfone from the store but have not opened the package because the store employee said no returns on opened packages (cell phones). I have not purchased minutes or activated an account. I want to “migrate” my data to the new phone instead of going through manually and entering all contacts info, this would take hours. Do I just switch sim cards? How do I proceed? I have not cancelled my AT&T service yet. Thanks

    • What data are your trying to transfer? It is definitely not as simple as just swapping your sim card. You’ll need to call tracfone to get your number transferred to hte new phone. Do not cancel with ATT until your new phone is working with your old number!

      Also, as far as getting your contacts copied over, bluetooth and USB won’t work with the t301g. You’ll have to try transferring them by sim card, which I discussed here:

      http://pbush14.wordpress.com/2008/07/30/bonus-codes-updated-sim-card-reader-details/

      • I would like to transfer contact names inc. phone numbers and any e-mail address. It would be great to not loose all the pictures that are on my 3 yearish old razor that I still use with AT&T but I assume they will be lost…pictures of kids, lost loved ones. Is there a way to save/transfer them?
        Thanks for your help

      • Navin, I would say, before you transfer your service to your new phone, ask an AT&T rep how to get the pictures and phone numbers off your razr. You could even be a little sneaky about it, to further incentivize them to help you, and say that you are considering renewing your contract and getting a phone upgrade, but don’t want to lose your data that are on your current phone.

        If they can’t help, I’m not sure what to say? Do you have a data plan with AT&T that would allow you to transfer your pics via email? You could email them to yourself.

  30. I don’t know if my experience will help anyone. I have a Tracfone with a sim card tied to T-Mobile and have experienced problems connecting in rural areas where I hike. I read where others have had the same problem with the phone not switching over to AT&T if the T-Mobile signal is too weak. What I have found the last three times that this happened and wouldn’t connect and I got a message saying “no service” I just dialed the number again and it switched over to AT&T and I could see that I had 3 or 4 bars. Apparently it takes this extra step to prompt the phone to switch over. I think, if you don’t do a lot of phone calling in fringe areas, it is easier to just dial again than trying to deal with Tracfone CS and get your sim card changed out. I don’t know if this is a typical experience for this problem but it sure works for me. I live in the San Francisco Bay area.

    • That is helpful, Hiker. Thanks for sharing. Now I have some more advice to offer other than just “get a new SIM card,” which can be a time-intensive option.

  31. You might find this interesting about my T301G which I’ve had about a month and uses a T-Mobile card. I experienced a similar problem as HIKER so I will try his approach next time.

    A little over a week ago I discovered when I tried to make a call from my Contacts, a message would pop up “Emergency Calls Only”. Tried dialing manually and it worked.

    Called TracFone yesterday using a number suggested by “Get Human” to avoid the phone tree. Answered on the second ring so that was encouraging. Went through all of the steps suggested by the girl including trying to make calls from my cell phone using up 5 of my minutes but I couldn’t hear the phone dialing even thought it indicated that the speaker was on.

    After over an hour and losing all of my contact information which she said wouldn’t happen, she decided there is something wrong with my phone and she ordered a replacement.

    I asked about keeping the same number, saving my minutes, and days left. Supposedly this has been done so that when the replacement arrives, I can call the number she gave me and the saved data will be transferred. I asked about making good on the lost minutes but she said it couldn’t be done.

    I have a feeling that if I had talked to the right person, these problems could have been corrected without making such a big thing out of it.

    This is my first cell phone and I will soon be 70. I wish I had followed your advice and purchased the SIMS card reader. That will be happening as soon as this is submitted.

    BTW. I purchased a Bluetooth Dongle and couldn’t get it to communicate with the phone. I expected as much but at least my computer now has Bluetooth in case I need it

    • I should be receiving a second replacement after another long amount of time on the phone with TracFone tech support. How does four hours sound?

      Continued to have the same problem as with the first replacement. Since switching our home service to cable, it now becomes imperative to have a cell phone which works 100% of the time.

      TracFone checked the signal in my area and insists that I should have a good signal with the T-Mobile sims card and I made it very clear that what’s supposed to be isn’t the way things are. The best I can do on signal strength is 2 bars but most of the time it is only 1. The tech, who was very responsive and tried every way possible to be helpful, finally let the cat out of the bag that three bars are needed to place a call.

      His supervisor who was the third level to whom I had appealed, insisted that the problem was with the phone and authorized the new replacement. To his credit, the helpful tech the next step below recommended that they send a phone with an AT&T card since I have had two phones in a row with T-Mobile cards which haven’t been satisfactory. He couldn’t authorize it only recommend it.

      If this doesn’t take care of it, I’m going to see what other measures I can take to get this resolved to my satisfaction.

  32. Pingback: [Project] Tracfone for iPhone - Page 3

  33. I am not sure why every one is so up in arms about bad coverage if they did not get an AT&T Sim. Just get another free phone. Use the Sim getting suggestions from this site and cruise the internet for discount codes. I just got a T401G with keyboard, plus free $14 accessory kit, including 400 minutes (not 300), and a 200 minute card for $41.00. Thats 600 minutes, 90 days plus a leather phone holder, home and car charger and a second ear bud for $41.00. I must thank the publisher of this blog. I would never have been as happy with out the AT&T trick you published.

  34. Got the second replacement phone and the signal strength was the same. Called TracFone and told them I was sending back the second replacement since the signal strength was the same as the first replacement which I am now using. I should have checked to see if the sims was AT&T instead of T-Mobile.

    The Tech said that they were going to see if they would need to send me another phone which I thought meant a different brand or model although I didn’t clarify that.

    Sometimes when I am outside, I can get three or four bars but once the phone is inside a building it goes down to one bar or two which quickly degrades to one.

    I think I might have to think about buying another phone if this doesn’t get resolved.

  35. Kudos to you, buddy, this fixed my problem! I was ready to throw away two Tracfones @ $20 each, they both had zero signal, but this post encouarged me to call customer service, who – after a long time – agreed to send me two new AT&T SIM cards. Just put the first one in, and now it’s working fine! Thx again!

  36. I just wanted to let others know of my experience with Tracfone.
    I purchased the LG420G from Wal Mart for $19.95. This would be my first pre paid phone that I have owned. Presently I have a Motorola Razor activated with AT&T and have had no problems with the phone or service from AT&T. I wanted to go to pre paid to save money because we use it very little. After buying the phone, I went to internet to activate it, which I did with no problems. I started to go through the menus to set up my personal settings and noticed the single strength going from 2 or 3 bars down to zero and no service. It would stay with no service several minutes then came back to one, two or three bars. Over all it was no service maybe 90% of the time. I started searching the internet for answers and found this article explaining the difference in sim card activation between AT&T and T Mobil. I looked at all the numbers and found that my phone was activated on the T Mobil network. Seems I was having the same problem others were having on T Mobil. The next day I called customer service to see if I could switch my sim card with one programmed with AT&T. I was told we would first have to check the phone and see if it is working right. After 1 hour and 39 minutes and going through every trouble shooting scenario know to the wireless world, the customer service rep said there was nothing left to check and maybe I should try it for a few days and see if it gets better after all the changing we just did. I told him that was unacceptable and since I have excellent reception where I was with AT&T, why not just replace the sim card with an AT&T card. He checked and then told me they could not exchange the cards out because it shows that I have a good signal in my area. I told him if they could not exchange the card, I would have to close my account and find a different brand of phone to purchase.
    He checked again and told me that no cards could be exchanged. He told me my phone must be bad, and they could send me a new phone in exchange. I told him no, I didn’t want to do that because then I could not return this phone to Wal Mart if it didn’t correct the problem. So I told him to close my account and he did. I was going to take the phone back to Wal Mart and wouldn’t you know it, I couldn’t find my receipt. Well trying anyway, I went and told them my story and they said with no receipt the only thing they could do was exchange for a like item. So I thought it would be better to have a new phone that’s in an unopened box than a used one, so I got a new phone. I have since ordered and Go Phone from AT&T and have not received it yet. I hope I don’t have any problems with this one. But I do have a brand new Tracfone to sell at my next garage sale. Thank you so much for the information you post here. It was extremely helpful even though I had to use a different brand pre paid phone. The threat of closing your account does not always work..

  37. It makes no sense that they would not send you a new sim card, but will send a new phone. Most of the time that would probably fix the problem and would be cheaper I would think.

    • I had the same problem and they took back the phone instead of switching the sim cards. It cost me five bucks extra but I did get an AT&T phone the second time.

  38. I am a current customer of T-mobile pre paid and have a sim with remaining time on it. If I purchase a Tracphone destined for T-mobile service, can I use the sim from my old phone until it runs out of T-mobile time, then activate the new Tracphone sim and switch to Tracphone service?

  39. I’m just adding to the thank-you’s for the information regarding the different sim cards and how to find out which carrier goes with what numbers. This will save me from the feeling of hit-and-miss when buying a phone from tracfone. It’s quite frustrating that the support lines don’t seem to get the importance of this for some areas. Particularly after complaining numerous times about not getting service with one tracphone but able to get service with two tracphones in same area. And all the games pushing the return date to the point of unable to return it now. Tomorrow I will find out if the information you gave works, as I’ll be switching my daughter’s phone from a brand-new unusable-in-our-neighborhood lg420 (w/ tmobile card) to a lg500g (w/ at&t card).

  40. I just bought an LG420g tracfone. After activation and loading 1 year of service plus minutes I do not get any service at my house. It has the 890126 sim card number (t-mobile). My husband has a samsung 310 tracfone that gets coverage at our house with the same sim card prefix. Will getting a new sim card fix my problem or should I try a different phone? I still have some time left on my 30 day trial.

  41. I have the Samsung t401g and I am having trouble downloading apps fro searchtruth.com/wap. It seems that if the program file size is large it has it will not completely download and the downlaod will just stop with no error message and will go back to the download page. I just tried to download a 430 kb file and it hung at %81 and then just went back to the download page with no error message of any kind and the phone was still connected to the Internet. If I put the phone next to a a radio I could hear that interference it makes in the speaker and I knew when the download would hang because the sound would stop, the best I got was %77 downloaded before it would hang and eventually abort. I had this phone before when it first came out and it was the one that had Samsung above the D-pad as apposed to the Trac Fone logo and it did not have the blue “A Service of TracFone Wireless Inc” boot up screen. I lost that phone so I got another one when it went on sale at Bestbuy for $30. I had my number transfered to it from my other NET10 Phone that used T-Mobile.
    I did not have this download problem with the old t401g that was the first version of the phone without the TracFone logo and boot up screen. With the old phone I was able to download the same program without any trouble, the only trouble I has was I’d get the forbidden error message on most webpages but not on the webpage where I downloaded the program.
    Is there some kind of file size limitation on the newer t401g phones or is it because it’s using T-mobile.

    If LG Made this phone I would not have this problem because I could simply copy the JAR file to the phone via Bluetooth or USB Cable and then install it from the phones memory because LG phones are more open the Samsung Phones. I had a LG600 and was able to copy JAR files to it via Bluetooth and then install them on the phone, same is true with the LG900 but you can also use the USB Cable.

    • Are you using the phone’s default web browser? You might install Opera mini and then try using that web browser to d/l and install the app of interest.

      • That does not work, the t401g does not allow the Java Apps access to the Internet. I downloaded Opera and tried to install it and after over a minute of waiting it gave me an error that it can’t access the Internet.

  42. Thanks so much for all the good info. Question: If I go to a certain zip code that I know will be an ATT&T carrier for tracfone and purchase one of the phones listed, when I go to activate it online, can I put in my local zip code and still stay on AT&T? Or do I need to activate it with the zip code that I purchased it from? The carrier Tracfone uses for my area code is T-Mobile which I don’t want.

    • Hi Teri
      As long as AT&T has coverage in your area, you should be able to actiuvate the phone with the ATT SIM. At least, that has been my experience.

  43. PBush, thanks so much for posting the info about ATT vs TMo SIM cards – I’d be lost right now if not for you. I live in a TMo no service area, yet Tracfone sent me a phone with a TMo SIM. During many hours on the phone to tech “support” over the last 7 days, during which the clueless agents tried to stonewall me into settling and accepting what I had, I stuck to my guns and insisted that either they send me the ATT SIM or I send them the phone. I still don’t know which way it’s going to end up, but at least with your info I know how to make my decision. Thanks again!

    • Michael, I’m happy to help. I wish Trac would make this clearer to it’s customers, but since they don’t, I do my best to spread the word.

  44. How can I get a direct connection to a supervisor at NET10 so I can change my number that will use AT&Ts network making them send me a new SIM Card. Right now my number uses T-Mobile’s Network and I have problems downloading any apps that are not very small. I have a Samsung t401g that is the newer version with the Tracfone Logo but I had a t401g before but lost it so I replaced it when it went on sale at Bestbuy. I never had the download problem with the first t401g I had, the only problem I had was the forbidden error but when I was able to connect to searchtruth.com /wap/index/html I was able to download all the programs but with the new phone I can only download 2 small programs.

  45. How do you get Tracfone or NET10 to send you a AT&T SIM Card?
    I had them send me a new SIM Card explaining to the customer service rep on the phone I wanted to get a sSIM Card that would cause the phone to use AT&T’s network so she had a new SIM Card sent to me. I just got it but it’s a T-mobile SIM Card because the SIM Serial Number starts wiyj 890126 which is T-Mobile and not 890141 which would access AT&T’s network.
    Is it possible that T-Mobile took over the NC market? all my latests NET10 Phones I have bought have T-Mobile SIMS in them but my older NET10 phones all have AT%T SIMs in them.

    • It’s certainly possible that T-Mobile is Net10′s preferred network in that area now, as I think that Trac/Net10 seem to be moving toward T-Mobile a lot. I assuming T-Mo gives Trac a better rate on the minutes, thus making T-Mo sims more profitable to Trac. I would suggest calling again, and insisting on a 890141 sim for your next replacement. If you let them know that you require AT&T service in order to remain a Net10 customer, they are usually more lenient.

  46. I cannot thank you enough! Just got my new LG500 with an AT&T sim card thanks to your advise. I use my phone in rural areas where Tmobile would have been of no use. Thanks again

  47. Thank you so much for this info! I am having a lot of trouble with an LG500G I got saying ‘no service’ half the time whereas my previous tracfone worked great. I checked and I have a t-mobile SIM, and I already know in my area t-mobile has very spotty coverage. So I’m going to call now and try to get a AT&T SIM sent to me.

  48. Woohoo, I finally got Tracfone to say they would send me an AT&T sim. It only took three calls of about 35 minutes each. This time when I called, I told the guy I have a t-mobile sim and I know t-mobile has poor reception in my area and that I regularly get ‘no service’ and ‘emergency calls only’. So he says ‘what’s your zip code?’ Then he says, no, t-mobile has coverage in your area. Usually I’m pretty calm but I started getting p/o’d with him. I said ok, well why doesn’t the phone work then? I have five bars reception right now and ‘no service’.

    Then he messed around with ‘the system’ as he called it for another 25 minutes or so and finally gave me a case # and said an AT&T sim was being sent out. Thank you so much for this info or I am quite certain I would have never gotten to the bottom of this!

    • Hi porcupine,
      I’m glad you finally got it resolved. 3 long calls to customer service is hardly “painless,” but hopefully it will be smooth sailing from here on out.

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